Melissa and John Sundaram
Jul 2018
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See how Nielen Prince and his team creatively expanded the living space of this Californian style bungalow.

WORDS Carol Watson

After many years of living an expat life in Japan, Singapore and Dubai, Melissa Sundaram and her husband John, knew they would one day take their three girls back to live in Australia.  Having grown up in Adelaide, Melissa was keen to return so that the girls could finish their education in Australia and be closer to family and friends. As intrepid travellers, with a sense of adventure, the purchase of their new home was one more adventure to add to their list. Their decision to purchase a beautiful four bedroom, two bathroom Californian Bungalow in Torrens Avenue, Fullerton, South Australia, was made before they even saw the house, with a relative making the purchase on their behalf. It was a wise decision and with enough scope to repurpose and renovate some of the spaces, Melissa and John knew that this would be their long-term family home.

House renovation design specifications

“Melissa and John wished to increase the size of the living room by incorporating an unused carport, adjacent to the current living room, into the living space. They also wanted to improve the flow and flexibility of the living room and rumpus/TV room by installing bi-folding doors between the two rooms. This would allow them to open the space up when entertaining or close the doors when necessary,” explained Nielen Prince, Renovation Specialist at Refresh Renovations, Adelaide.

I can definitely see value in using a Project Manager for this type of work

“We wanted a company that would do it all and when looking online, I came across Refresh Renovations and gave them a call,” said Melissa. “Nielen came to the house, he was very personable and talked us through their five-step process and how Refresh could help us achieve our goals,” she added.

Garage conversion consent

“In order to convert the carport to a habitable room, we needed to get the necessary council approvals and ensure the work was carried out in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (‘BCA”),” explained Nielen.  “This included pouring a new slab, with a damp-proof membrane and ensuring the ceiling height was at, or more than, the 2.4m requirement. We had an engineer involved in the process from the outset to ensure the work met BCA specifications,” he added.

Carrying out the house renovation

With work commencing in October 2017 and the family travelling overseas during the Christmas holidays, the project was split into two stages. Stage one was completed before Christmas. This was the major external work, through to lock up. Stage two commenced in late January 2018 and involved breaking through into the living room, the removal of an old roller door in the rumpus/TV room and the installation of bi-folding doors instead. Two new windows replaced a second roller door in the old carport and a floating desk was installed to create a study nook. A wall of exposed red brick remains as a reminder of past years. The old slate floor tiles were replaced with a wood look ceramic tile throughout the entire area.

The kitchen renovation

The kitchen underwent some cosmetic changes with a new Miro-Stone benchtop, a new sink, tiled splashback, new door handles, kick boards and a fresh coat of white paint throughout to complete the look.

The project was finished in five months, with a total expenditure of $89,000 AUD. A small overrun of about $5,000 AUD was a result of some variations to the original scope of works in the kitchen, with new door handles, panels and kickboards.

The benefits of working with Refresh Renovations

“The customer portal was really good and very useful,” said Melissa. “We could see the calendar, which showed when work was scheduled to happen or when progress payments were due.  If there were any changes, this was always reflected on the portal,” she explained.

“I can definitely see value in using a Project Manager for this type of work and when the time comes to renovate our bathroom, I will definitely get in touch with Refresh Renovations,” said Melissa

“The whole project went really smoothly, there were no surprises or unexpected issues. The customer was lovely to work with and I think they are very happy with the work we did for them,” said Nielen.


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*All information is believed to be true at the time of publishing and is subject to change.